Land of Celestial Mountains
Pristine valleys. Crystal clear mountain lakes. Powerful mountain rivers. Rich flora and fauna embracing rare species. Discover the virgin nature of Kyrgyzstan!
Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions. Landlocked and mountainous, it borders Kazakhstan to the north,Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the southeast. It is called the Switzerland of Central Asia.
Hiking & Trekking
Kyrgyzstan is a true heaven for trekking and outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its beautiful mountain sceneries, large number of sunny days and huge choice of trails with varying degrees of difficulty from easy to extreme. There are a large number of trails, many of which exist since Soviet times. The most favorite areas for hiking are:
In north: Ala Archa, Alamedin, Issyk Ata, Chon Kemin, Altyn Arashan and Karakol gorges, Eki Naryn valley, the plateau of Son Kol lake, Talas range.
In south: Karavshin gorge, Chatkal valey and Arslanbob valleys, Sary Chelek lake, Aigul Tash mountain.
About 95% of Kyrgyzstan’s territory is covered by mountains, which belong to two major mountain systems of the world – Tien Shan and Pamir mountain ranges. There are great opportunities for both beginners and professional mountaineers and climbers.
Pobeda Peak is the highest and most difficult to climb due to unpredictable weather conditions. On the other hand, the second highest peak of Lenin is the most accessible of seventhousanders for the ascent. The route has no particular technical difficulties and does not require specialized technical equipment. Khan Tengri is in world climbers’ elite list and every self-respecting mountaineer at least once in a life must climb it.
Issyk-Kul Lake and its Beaches
Surrounded by dramatic mountains, including the UNESCO-listed Tian Shan Mountain Range, Lake Issyk-Kul is located in eastern Kyrgyzstan, close to the border with Kazakhstan. Being easily accessible from the capital, Bishkek, Issyk-Kul is a destination that finds its way onto many traveller’s itineraries. But, as an independent traveller.
Lake Issyk-Kul is the second highest alpine lake in the world.You’ll want to take a cruise on the lake. Surrounded by the Tian Shan Mountains, it’s stunning. Although it’s further away from the sea than any other country, the beaches along the lake will make you feel like you’re at the ocean.
Must Know: Issyk-Kul means ‘hot lake’ in Kyrgyz: even though wintertime temperatures can fall to -5 Celsius the lake never freezes.
Being once a minaret of a mosque, Burana Tower is located near Tokmok in the territory of Balasagun, which was a medieval capital (9th – 14th centuries) of Karakhanid Khanate and home to famous medieval poet Yusuf Balasaguni, author of the poem Kudatgu Bilig (Beneficial Knowledge). The tower was built in the first half of the 11th century. With time, the mosque got completely destroyed, and the minaret was partially ruined by an earthquake in the 15th century. Today, the tower stands at about 25 meters, although it was originally 45 meters tall. An open-air archaeological and architectural museum was created at the basis of the legendary Balasagun.
Fairy Tale Canyon
The Fairy Tale Canyon is located on the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake, 4 km from Tosor village. This is a true natural wonder. Water, wind, and sun have produced whimsical, fabulous shapes here. While some resemble mythical creatures (dragon ridge), the others look like other ordinary animals (camels, hippos, and elephants), while others portray amazing intricate structures such as castles, towers, and even China’s Great Wall. Due to particular nature of the soil, it is recommended to visit the canyon in dry weather.
Entrance fee: 200 som per car (US$2.80)
TIP: Kyrgyzstan has a relatively short optimum trekking season with July through to mid-September being ideal and you shouldn’t tackle the Ala-Kul trek alone outside of this time frame as conditions can change quickly. In some areas it may be possible to hike from mid-May until mid-October, although the weather is more unpredictable: it gets cold and there may be some rain.